I was up and about in the central city late last night and early this morning
It’s still supposed to be summertime but the southerly had kicked in and it was wild – wet and cold
There were a lot of people sleeping rough on the streets with varying amounts of cover
It really can happen to anyone…
I’d been working in Strathmore for a very long time for no pay and I was in real trouble with one of my flatmates who had gang ties.
I went to the pub to try and think it all through and then as I was walking up the hill I got another text saying there were headhunters out looking for me.
It was winter and I found a space under a car platform perched on the slope where the rain wouldn’t get me too bad. In my bag I had an old painting shirt that I wrapped around my neck but I couldn’t sleep. At 4 am I snuck into the house.
My Ovation guitar was gone and my 8-track digital recorder. I grabbed what I could of what was left – only a few clothes and a couple of back-up CDs. My paintings were scattered around and my world had concertinaed down into a few traces. My electric guitars and amp were at the practice room and safe though. I lit out of there.
I was really lucky – I found a derelict house.
There was no power but the water was on.
A mattress and candles and I had to sneak in after dark and stay quiet.
It was freezing but a haven from where to regroup. And I had my clunky cell phone and number – I’d recharge it at the library or the bar. Its alarm would go off and I’d have to scrape myself up and go to Strathmore and the fist-fight every morning.
I knew I had to get out of the fix I was in with the farcical job first so I cut my losses there.
Through contacts I got a bit of work and started to claw my way back – a low-paying job painting a millionaire’s house.
I had friends with showers.
Quite often I would spend the weekend with Carey and Catherine or Crunch and Andy.
The band was rebuilding again at this time too after Riki and the Blood Monster album. Malky joined us and then Russell.
I had a primus that I sometimes cooked beans on, a small radio and I read a lot of cheap books.
The place got robbed and boarded up but I managed to get back in through a window and started from scratch again.
Then I got the phone call I’d been waiting for
A job on a major film project with a billion-dollar budget…
The Ghost of Electricity – War Stories by Jon McLeary is a new initiative at Off The Tracks, a series of stories and reflections from painter, writer and musician Jon McLeary